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High school rodeo ‘riding’ in to arena

Covington Center Arena proponents are issuing a “be on the lookout” for “Southern Showdown” participants who are competing in this weekend’s team up between the Alabama High School Rodeo Association and the Covington County Sheriff’s Posse.

More than 160 high school students from Alabama and Georgia — including four local teens — begin competing today for jackpot money, points and belt buckles in this multi-state rodeo, said Tina Snowden of the AHSRA.

“This event is a rodeo between Alabama and Georgia,” Snowden said. “Cowboys and cowgirls from all over the great state of Alabama, the panhandle of Florida and Georgia in the ninth through 12th grades will compete for bragging rights.

“And each of those 87 kids from Alabama and 77 from Georgia are required to wear their back numbers anytime they go out in public,” she said. “Rodeo contestants are mandated to wear their contestant numbers at all times. They may not be in full Western attire — but when they go to Wal-Mart or out to eat or anywhere — that number has to be visible.”

While wearing the number has been an on-going practice with the association for several years, it now serves another purpose, she said.

“We’ve always (made contestants wear the numbers in public),” she said. “It helps us identify kids who may have not be acting accordingly or something like that, but for the public, now when they see those numbers on kids’ backs, they know what it means.

“They can know for sure that kids, and a lot of his or her family, are here attending the rodeo,” she said.

On average, a contestant brings an estimated 10 people to the event, she said.

“I can’t speak for other events and what they bring, but this is high school kids,” she said. “Parents have to pull that trailer here and their grandparents are going to come. Could be two sets, plus any other family and friends.

“You get more people in town and it’s not just at the fast food places and hotels, it’s the flat tire store, the feed store. The list goes on. It affects more than just that arena out there when you get that many people in town.”

Additionally, all 150 RV hook-ups at the site are rented out.

Snowden said she hopes local people come out to support the three-day event.

“We’ve got four local contestants — Lane Taylor, Kyle Wyatt, Brittany Snowden and Lexie Keahey — who are all in the state top 10 for 2009,” she said. “We want people to come on out.”

Gates open today at 6 p.m. with a performance show; on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. with performances at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday beginning at 7:30 a.m., church at 11:30 p.m. and a 2 p.m. performance.

Admission is $8 per day with weekend armbands available for $18. Children 14 and under are free. Sales from the concession stand will benefit the Straughn Elementary School P.T.O.

For more information, contact Tina Snowden at 334-343-0686.